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From Site Selection magazine, September 2023

Federal Program Targets Local Efforts to Improve Transit Options


he U.S. Department of Transportation announced in August the availability of approximately $13.4 million in competitive grant funds through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning. The funding will support local planning and investment near transit hubs to promote sustainable, livable and equitable communities. TOD links public transportation, land use and housing to create communities that are connected to transit and walkable. 

Since 2015, FTA’s TOD program has provided more than $104 million to help communities around the country plan for new opportunities around transit. Past award recipients have invested funds into creative and innovative projects, including work by Phoenix and Tempe city officials who are transforming the areas around Valley Metro streetcar and light rail routes to expand housing opportunities and build sustainable, equitable neighborhoods. 

“Transit-oriented development reduces reliance on single-occupancy vehicles, improves mobility, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. It helps promote transit ridership by creating more opportunities for people to access rail stations, transit centers and bus stops,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “Through this program, we will support more investments in TOD and help improve communities and people’s lives.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau is working with several U.S. metros this summer to improve transportation infrastructure projects in their communities. The Bureau streamlines credit opportunities and grants and provides access to credit and grant programs with more speed and transparency, among other functions. 

Mobility Hubs on the Horizon

It’s providing a $501 million low-interest loan to the Colorado Transportation Investment Office (CTIO) on behalf of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to improve a 61-mile corridor of I-25, including adding 52 miles of express toll lanes between Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado. The benefits of the $1.6 billion project include improved travel times; construction of new mobility hubs that encourage a modal shift to transit, carpooling, and bicycle/pedestrian travel; capacity for future travel demand; rehabilitation of older critical rail crossings and structures; and connecting users to a 100-mile regional trail network.

“This $1.6 billion project relieves traffic on neighborhood streets and provides mobility hubs, carpool and bus rapid transit facilities, park-and-ride lots with EV charging and pedestrian and bicycle access,” said Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy Carlos Monje Jr. “The bus rapid transit improvements are expected to reduce travel time by 10-15 minutes, greatly enhancing benefits of transit trips.”  

The Bureau also is providing low-interest loans totaling $327 million to the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) for improvements to the transit system. “DOT’s $327 million in loans to support Sound Transit’s light and commuter rail lines supports an alternative to car travel on congested roadways and improve connections to jobs, healthcare, and educational opportunities,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg. 

The loans will finance three projects:

  • Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension, which will extend light rail line by 2.4 miles, build six new stations and relocate one station, purchase five new light rail vehicles, improve bike and pedestrian infrastructure and expand an operations and maintenance facility;
  • Elevated Light Rail Platform Along Lynnwood Link Extension, which will build a new light rail station in North Seattle, build new bus and paratransit facilities, add sidewalk and bike infrastructure; and
  • Sounder Access Improvements, which will improve access for hundreds more people at three stations, construct new sidewalks and improve street lighting and expand existing parking facilities for transit users without the ability to walk or bike to a station.

“Strong partnership with the federal government is crucial to our success, and these loans signal a shared commitment to reinvest in the nation’s infrastructure and help us build the transit network our region needs,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine.  

Mark Arend
Editor Emmeritus of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend is editor emeritus of Site Selection, and previously served as editor in chief from 2001 to 2023. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.


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